My hands trembled with nervousness, but I knew I wanted to do this. I had never seen a baptism before. It had been on my mind a lot. I’d been Christian for 3 years and I’d been going to church for a couple weeks in a row for the first time in my life. I wanted God. I wanted to live for the Lord. I didn’t really understand what exactly baptism meant. I’d never heard anyone explain it. When I told my church I wanted to get baptized, we scheduled it out. There was no class. No one offered me a bible study. I wasn’t given any literature on it or references to read the bible verses about it. I thought I was stepping out to show my faith and I wanted to demonstrate my commitment. The Southern Baptist church teaches that baptism is optional and is merely symbolic. Fortunately, someone else did get baptized shortly before I was scheduled. I watched with nervous anticipation to see what I would be doing. It was 2009 May 3rd when I stepped in that water. A white robe zipped over my jeans and t-shirt, I glowed with excitement and shook a little with the jitters of doing something so important. My pastor was already in the baptism pool, and I remember how much it calmed me to take his outstretched hand as I stepped in. It was a beautiful summer day warm with the comfort of early May sunshine. I went down that day baptized in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit. I came out of that water with a smile I couldn’t contain. My family and all the people I had invited did not come, but Jesus was there. I didn’t fully understand what baptism was; I followed the gentle pull and trusted the leadership of my church.
In early 2011, I began attending a new church. I had visited with a godly coworker, and immediately fell in love with the church. The atmosphere in this church was like nothing I had ever experienced. I could feel the presence of the Lord every service. The worship was like nothing I had ever seen. The music was passionate. The people praised God. They prayed with power. It was amazing. This was an Apostolic Pentecostal church. My coworker offered me a bible study, and I eagerly accepted. I had never been in a bible study before. One thing we studied was baptism. This study was entirely based on scripture. It wasn’t about opinion or focused on a denominational statement. It was scripture. We were looking at the word of God.
It was the first time anyone taught me what baptism means straight from the word of God.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for the one who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (NASB)
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ (NIV)
Getting baptized is being buried with Christ so we can be raised with him. It washes our sins away. Wait, what? No, it can’t actually wash sins away. It’s just symbolic, right? What does this mean?
I would read those verses over and over.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (ASV)
Command… That’s a strong word. The bible didn’t say they had the option of baptism. It doesn’t say they recommend. It doesn’t say if you feel like it or when you get around to it. They were commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. We are commanded. This instruction is for us too.
Wait, so this is saying baptism is necessary? Am I understanding things right? I was taught baptism is not necessary for salvation at all. I was taught just believe and you’re saved. But these verses go against what I had been taught. Shift of perspective – what I had been taught went against what the bible says. This weighed on me, and I went over these verses again and again. I was baptized, but it bothered me that this seemed to be saying baptism is actually necessary. So many churches teach it is not. So many loved ones I know believe in God but are not baptized yet they think they are saved. Is this really a salvation issue?
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (NKJV)
I studied again and again. I’d ask God to speak to me, explain this to me, help me understand. I was baptized, but not exactly like they did it in the bible. All of these verses that say what name they baptized in says it was the name of Jesus.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. (NIV)
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. (NIV)
I was a little confused here. Matthew 28:19 says to go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet all of these verses in Acts are saying in the name of Jesus. Actually, every verse after the Christian church began says that baptism was done in the name of Jesus. The disciples learned baptism from Jesus himself. Which instruction are we supposed to follow, Matthew or Acts?
My bible study teacher offered insight here. What is the name? We all know the name of the son is Jesus. I had never really thought about the name of the father or the holy spirit. Maybe the father’s name is Jehovah? My Mormon relatives all say “Heavenly Father” as if it’s the name. The Holy Spirit….does it have a name?
In John 5:43 Jesus says he has come in his father’s name.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you. (NASB)
Acts 4:12 says there is no other name by which we must be saved (speaking of Jesus).
I had been baptized in the trinitarian formula. In the Apostolic Pentecostal church, we call this being baptized in the titles. What is the name? Even Matthew 28:19 is telling us to be baptized in a NAME.
The name we are saved by…
The name of the God we are being buried with in baptism…
No other name by which we must be saved…
Baptism is supposed to be in the name of Jesus.
Upon having this revelation that baptism is necessary and cleansing and should be done in the name of Jesus,
I felt like my baptism hadn’t been done right. I started thinking about getting baptized again so it could be in Jesus’ name. I thought on this for a while. It wasn’t an immediate decision. This was heavily emotional. I loved my first baptism, and now I had all these emotions about whether or not it was done the biblical way. At the same time, I was navigating a lot in my faith.
I remember one evening after a midweek service I sat on the altar with a friend (the one I did the bible study with) looking out at the church. There’s so much revelation here. We talked about baptism and how I was thinking about doing it a second time so it would be the same as the early church. I wanted it to be done fully the same way as they did in the bible. I started talking to my family about it and they were critical of the idea. I procrastinated. I wanted my family to come this time. They didn’t.
And then one Sunday I couldn’t wait anymore. I went up to the altar and asked to be baptized. We did it right then. It was 2011 May 29th. Let me tell you, it felt different coming up out that water. I understood baptism now. I knew what I was doing. I knew the scriptures on it. And I went down in the name of Jesus. There was a power to it. There was a cleansing to this baptism. The moments right after my baptism were the most pure I had ever felt. I knew I had been washed clean.
It was worth it. It was worth it to get baptized again. It was worth it to make sure it was done the same way as the early church did it in the bible.
Have you been baptized by immersion in the name of Jesus?
If not, I invite you to obey the command. What are you waiting for? Arise, and be baptized in the name of Jesus.